Everyday conversations: Take a class and learn a culture [audio]

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Six students from around the world meet. What do they have in common? They are all exchange students studying at a U.S. university for a semester. Throughout the semester, they learn more English, learn about U.S. culture, and learn more about their fields of study. This series of Everyday Conversations is about these six students and their experiences during a semester at a university in the U.S. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

In this conversation, three students (Lucía, Jana and Lee) talk about culture and traditional crafts.

Lucía: Why do you have this misshapen vase, Jana?

Jana: That’s the first vase I made in my glassblowing class.

Lee: You’re taking a glassblowing class?

Jana: Not for credit. I’m taking it because I’m interested in culture and traditional crafts. Maybe my dad is rubbing off on me after all.

Lee: Your dad?

Lucía: Jana’s dad is an anthropologist.

Lee: Oh, cool. And glassblowing is a traditional craft?

Jana: It is in many countries, including the U.S. It was one of the first crafts brought here. I like to think I am helping to preserve the cultural heritage of the country. And I study traditional crafts of my own country too, of course.

Lucía: That’s really cool. This vase seems much more beautiful now.

Lee: I think it’s fantastic. I have never learned a traditional craft.

Jana: You should try! You could always come to my glassblowing class.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

Something that is misshapen has a shape that is not normal.

A vase is a container that is used to hold flowers.

Glassblowing is the art of forming hot glass into shapes by blowing air into the glass through a special tube.

Credit is a unit that measures a student’s progress toward earning a college or university degree. It is the value that a college or university course contributes to the completion of the degree.

Traditional crafts: art, furniture, pottery, etc., that is skillfully made by hand in traditional ways.

When someone rubs off on you, it means that your actions or thinking have become like his/hers.

An anthropologist is a person who studies cultures, customs, societies and the human race.

To preserve something means to keep it as it is, especially to protect it.

Cultural heritage is the collective physical artifacts and traditions of a society that are passed from one generation to the next. An artifact is an object (such as a tool or ornament) that was made and used by people in the past and that often is interesting because of its historical or cultural meaning.

Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help.

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.